I read a blog post recently talking about Thanksgiving being a forgotten holiday. It made me really step back and take notice. At first, I shrugged it off and thought to myself, well Thanksgiving is really a non commercial holiday, so there is nothing for the media to focus on. It is a holiday for family, food, football, and fun traditions. Thanksgiving weekend is the busiest traveling season of the year with people trying to get to home to love ones. After observing the last couple of weeks since Halloween, I have to agree, Thanksgiving is getting the squeeze play.
The unwritten meaning of Black Friday or the Day after Thanksgiving as it was originally called, was to officially kickoff the Christmas season. Now it has become the main event, overshawdowing Thanksgiving Day. Since retailers cannot make money off of Thanksgiving Day, they have turned it into “The Day Before Black Friday” or the day that gets in the way of the biggest shopping day of the year. As early as September I saw 2011 Black Friday ads. Pre Black Friday Sales are running now. When I look online, all I see is count downs to Black Friday 2011 (disclaimer for the Amazon Ad on site) or Christmas gift items. No mention of Thanksgiving Day.
The newest ploy by retailers is to skip Thanksgiving all together and turn it into a shopping day. Stores are opening up earlier and earlier. Do you remember when early bird was 6am to 8pm? Then it went to 5am. Now most stores open at 4am. This year, Target announced a midnight opening. Wal-Mart’s had to up the ante and unveiled that they will open their doors at 10pm. At the time I am typing this, Toys-R-Us unveiled doorbusters at 9pm Thanksgiving Day opening. You see where this is heading? These earlier Black Friday store hours: (1) make employees have to cut family time short and (2) cause door buster bargain hunters to have to get their Thanksgiving dinner to go.
Maybe because of the focus on Wall Street’s greed and the Occupy Wall Street movement, this newest tactic is being met with resistance by consumers and employees. In a recent New York Times article, “Thanksgiving as a Day to Shop Meets Rejections”, one faithful Black Friday shopper said that she may have to skip their family ritual all together. She is not going to forgo quality family time and dinner to stand in line. While a Target employee, Anthony Hardwick, has launched a petition against his employer, saying that “every employee deserves to break bread with their love ones”. Many consumers are emphatic with employees, stating employee exploitation and labor violations as reasons to boycott these earlier hours.
Be a wise shopper this holiday season. Don’t feed the sharks. If it is 12am this year, next year the time will be 9pm, then 7pm, then 5pm, until finally, they will open all day Thanksgiving. If one store does it, the others have to follow in an effort to get a share of the consumer dollars. Do not stand for this ploy to get you to depart with your money. Black Friday was a part of the Christmas holiday kickoff season and a tradition for many families, not the main event itself. Retailers make the bulk of their profits during Thanksgiving weekend and it sets the stage for the entire season. I am fine with that, but let’s not allow them to turn the entire holiday season into pure consumerism and commericalism. Let’s preserve the sanity of Thanksgiving family traditions.
Are you with me? If you are interested in signing Anthony Hardwick’s petition, you can go to change.org.
UPDATE: Over 100,000 have signed the petition. Huffington Post just posted a response from Target to the petition. Here is part of the statement:
Our understanding is that this team member also works full-time for another retailer. In early November, he informed his Target managers that he was scheduled to work at his other job on Black Friday and indicated that he needed the day off from Target. We honored that request.
Target does our best to work around the schedules of all of our team members, making every effort to accommodate their requests. Target will offer holiday pay to all hourly team members who work on Thanksgiving Day.
Sounds like Target made this about Anthony Hardwick. Do they get it? Did they just make a corporate social blunder? What do you think?
Samirian Hill, a.k.a. The MoneyWise Teacher, is a financial educator, advocate, blogger and contributing writer. She founded Budgetwise Financial Solutions, where they teach people to manage money wisely. As a reformed shopper, she spends her time golfing, reading and cooking.